Page 1380 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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for Women, I am proud to be involved in all these events and initiatives. I encourage all members of the Assembly to get involved in empowering women through the fair trade fortnight.

MR GENTLEMAN: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Thank you, minister. Could you provide the Assembly with further details of the ACT government’s support for women in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for his supplementary question. Perhaps I can talk a bit more about the women’s director scholarships. Four scholarships will be available under the 2005-06 program. Successful applicants can choose to undertake one of the two directorship courses—“company directors” or “directors’ essentials”—which are conducted in an arrangement with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Application packages can be obtained from the community affairs group located within the Chief Minister’s Department. Applications close on Friday, 2 June and I look forward to announcing the successful applicants in early July 2006.

It is unfortunate that not all in this place are supportive of the Stanhope government’s strong commitment to women. We have the opposition spokesperson on men’s issues, Mr Seselja, who recently finished third in the Women’s Electoral Lobby’s Greg awards—awards that recognise the most misogynist quotes made during the year. I think it has been some time since we have had a winner in the Greg awards, but Mr Seselja took out the bronze. He won the award by calling loudly for an ACT minister for men.

I think we had hoped that, by winning this award, Mr Seselja might wake up to the politics behind calling for an ACT minister for men. However, he repeated the claims in yesterday’s Canberra Times. I want to say I am not here to denigrate the issues raised by Mr Seselja in that article—high suicide rates amongst young males, the safety of young male drivers and the number of men in prison are all serious issues. However, they are issues for the community as a whole and are being tackled in that context. Mr Seselja does not help his cause by using dodgy statistics. While it is true that more men commit suicide, as Mr Seselja suggests, the sad reality is that more women attempt it. According to the national suicide prevention website, in 2001-02, females accounted for 60 per cent of the self-harm cases nationally.

Mr Seselja also suggests in his article that statistics show that men from disaffected or lower-educated backgrounds are the perpetrators of domestic violence. It is rather disappointing that Mr Seselja denigrates these issues by relying on urban myth, because we know that domestic violence is not an issue of the working class; it occurs far too widely across all economic backgrounds. That is the point here. Whether more women attempt suicide than men is academic to Mr Seselja’s argument. These are not issues tackled by the Minister for Women but rather by the community as a whole and the particular ministers responsible for health, mental health, justice, et cetera. It is unrealistic to believe that a minister for men would be able to solve these issues; and it is politicking in the extreme to suggest that the ACT government is not considering these issues in the context of the portfolios in which they fall.

Mr Seselja has been overseas recently too—to South Korea, I think—as a guest of the Moonies and the Universal Peace Federation. He has done a bit of travelling, like Mr Mulcahy, although not quite as extensive as Mr Mulcahy—not five weeks in

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